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Monthly Archives: March 2014

A Note To Self: If You Don’t Feel Like Writing, Write Anyway.

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I almost didn’t share anything on this space today. Almost being the operative word. I wish I could blame that on the traditional existential angst that often accompanies Mondays. No, this wasn’t a case of the Monday blues. I had a pretty chilled weekend and both Manchester United and Lewis Hamilton won over the weekend so unlike most Monday’s before I was in a good mood. The day itself started off positively and I set about to attack the day with much fanfare and vigour. But through all that positivity I hadn’t made a plan as to what I was going to write about today and when, as I have previously done. I thought I would just wing it. I was wrong, because halfway through the day I and managed to talk myself out of writing. Or so I thought.

Earlier when I had resigned myself to not writing for this blog it was mainly because I didn’t feel I had anything meaningful, informative or even insightful to share today. So I told myself I would put it off until tomorrow when hopefully I would have something more tangible to work with. But here I am writing. Why? Because the internal guilt of not writing today proved to be too much of a burden to bear than say writing about nothing in particular. And so here I am succumbing to my own guilt. If I had gone through with the decision to give myself an unscheduled ‘off day’ it would have been the first time in three weeks that I wouldn’t have shared anything on this blog on week day. Three weeks ago I set about on a journey to write as consistently as possible. The aim is to write every week day for six weeks. Only after six weeks would I reevaluate and set new goals for my writing. But here I was halfway through that journey patting myself on the back and haggling with myself. Prior to today I was doing OK. I was focused. I was motivated and I was following through almost effortlessly on my personal goals. I was comfortable in my routine and I never plan for days like today when that carefully crafted routine would be challenged. Even though I knew there would be days like this I never planned for that eventuality and I almost broke that routine.

When I was making the case to myself for taking the day off my reasoning was that I deserved it for the consistency that I have shown over the last three weeks, even though it was not part of the plan. Today being a Monday it would not have just been a day of though. It would have been my third consecutive day off taking into account my scheduled weekend off. It was the worst possible day to even consider taking off. It was a slippery slope that I was about to let myself go down. The more I thought about this the more I didn’t trust myself not to end up on some unintended sabbatical from this space. It’s not too long that ago that I remember struggling a great deal to get back into writing after I had let my pen fall asleep on the page for too long. It’s so easy to break the routine, but so much harder to start all over again. And it usually starts with rationalising that it’s just one day and before you know it a day turns into a week, and a week into months.

Whilst I am proud of and acknowledge the work and the progress I’ve made to get to three weeks I am not going to rest on my laurels just yet. I set a goal for myself to write consistently for at least six weeks and that is what I intend to do, even if on days like today its means writing about nothing. It is also a realisation that not all days are going to be the same and that days like this are the ones I allow myself to grow. It also means I am slowly mustering the willpower to do things I know I have to even though I might not always feel like it. And even though at times today it felt easier not, it always feels so much better to have written.

On the days you don’t feel like writing those are the days that it’s even more important to write. A luta continua. The struggle continues.

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Posted by on March 31, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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A (Yellow) Bone To Pick

I’ve got a (yellow) bone to pick.

Of late there has been resurgence in the availability and use of skin lightening creams and pills amongst Zimbabweans and many other Africans as well. Skin bleaching is predominantly done by women by women but more and more evidence suggests that even men are jumping onto the bandwagon as well. It seems everyone wants to be light skinned. Why? Well, because they all want to be ‘Yellow Bones’, every black men and women’s supposedly most sought after skin tone. Yellow bone is a colloquial term that is popular amongst people of African descent. The term Yellow bone refers to the lightest skinned black woman. They sometimes have a mixed race gene somewhere in their family tree and their skin tone appears golden yellow. An example of a Yellow bone in popular culture is Beyonce’. She is the definition of Yellow bone in all its aspirational glory. To put her Yellow bone credentials in context, her former band mate from the girl group Destiny’s Child Kelly Rowland is considered dark skinned. They are both black, but they are for lack of a better term different shades of black. One is a yellow bone and the other is not.

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The reason for the resurgence of these skin lightening creams is partly a result of the pedestal that most black men and women usually put those regarded as Yellow bones. Yellows bones are to black people what blonds are too white people. The general consensus is that yellow bones by virtue of having a lighter skin tone are more attractive and appealing. As such the Lupita Nyong’os and Kelly Rowland’s who make up team dark skinned are unfortunately resorting to applying these creams in a bid to become lighter and by default be regarded as more attractive. They try to cosmetically become Yellow bones. Further evidence of this yellow bone bias is found in this qualifying statement given to dark skinned girls, ‘She is beautiful for a dark skinned girl’. The inference being that by being darker she is already at a disadvantage in the beauty stakes. I don’t know if I necessarily agree with this thinking. It is an overgeneralisation to assume that all light skinned black women are more attractive than their darker counterparts. Beauty is more subjective than that and definitely not limited to ones skin tone. The unfortunate reality though is that most black men and women don’t see it this way and hence the skin bleaching.

"I got teased and taunted about my skin. My one prayer to God was that I would wake up lighter skinned. The morning would come and I would be so excited about seeing my new skin that I would refuse to look down at myself until I was in front of the mirror because I wanted to see my face first. Every day I would feel the disappointment of being just as dark as the day before…" - oscar winner Lupita Nyong'o

“I got teased and taunted about my skin. My one prayer to God was that I would wake up lighter skinned. The morning would come and I would be so excited about seeing my new skin that I would refuse to look down at myself until I was in front of the mirror because I wanted to see my face first. Every day I would feel the disappointment of being just as dark as the day before…” – Best Supporting Actress Oscar Winner 2014 Lupita Nyong’o

To further compound matters these skin lightening creams and pills are not only harmful but illegal in Zimbabwe. Researchers have indicated that most of the products that are currently being sold on the market contain a cocktail of compounds like hydroquinone and tretinoin, which if used for a long time can lead to skin cancer, permanent pigmentation of the skin, liver damage and mercury poisoning. The creams are illegal because they contain harmful substances and are not authorised by the Medicines Control Council of Zimbabwe, the body responsible for regulating medicines in Zimbabwe. The creams are classified under the country’s Dangerous Drugs and Substances Act, and the Drug Control Council of Zimbabwe banned the creams in 1980.

So why are many women and some men willing to risk their health and possible incarceration when they buy and apply these creams and pills? The answer to that is that they want to be beneficiaries of what I like to call yellow bone privilege. Yellow bone privilege is similar but not exactly the same as it’s more pervasive big brother white privilege. White privilege is not to be confused with racism. Those are two different things. White privilege is assuming the best intentions when it comes to a white person than when it comes to a black person given precisely the same circumstances. Taking my lead from that description of white privilege a case can be made that yellow bone privilege assumes default attractiveness when it comes to a yellow bone than when it comes to a member of team dark skinned given precisely the same physical attributes such as height, weight etc.

Personally I have always gravitated towards natural yellow bones. And so do most of my male African friends. I could argue that it’s just my type, the same way someone can argue that blondes are his type. That being said I do not limit myself to dating yellow bones, but just admitting to myself that I me and most of my friends seem more drawn to yellow bones I start to understand the motivations behind some people resort to skin lightening. They are the same motivations that make people undergo cosmetic procedures like Botox and breast implants. They are aspiring to meet what they perceive to be the societal standards of beauty.

I wouldn’t go so far as to call myself a yellow bone but I am aware that I am lighter skinned than the average black person. So I have experienced and have been a beneficiary of yellow bone privilege. When people have referred to my skin tone it has always been in a complimentary manner or enviously. This thinking isn’t just unique to my generation but it goes way back. My paternal grandmother was considered the most beautiful girl in her village. And yes , she was a yellow bone. Even to this day her reputation has outlived her. Those who knew her when she was in her prime still talk about how beautiful she was. And this often goes something like ‘Mbuya wako wanga vari tsvarakadenda chaiyo, kutsvuka kwavo,waitoti vaigezi nemukaka chete.’, Your grandmother was very pretty, she was so light skinned you’d think she bathed in milk. Yellow bone’s have clearly been a thing for some time now.

The more I think about the more ingrained I realise this bias is in our culture. Dark skinned people are often referred in sometimes derogatory terms by other black people. In my native Shona language darker skinned people are often described as ‘akasviba’ which loosely translates in English to ‘they are dirty’. This is because some black people misguidedly believe that being dark skinned is a result of a lack of hygiene. Often you will hear people saying ‘haagezi’, he/she doesn’t bathe. No wonder naturally dark skinned people are resorting to skin lightening albeit with disastrous consequences.

I believe yellow bone privilege has its roots firmly implanted in colonialism. It was drilled into our forefathers that white was better, and naturally the closer you were to white the better you were assumed to be. This is obviously not true and it is unfortunate that many years after the dismantling of colonialism yellow bone privilege is even a thing. There could be a more sinister element to the skin beaching as well, that some people want to purposefully erase what defines their ethnicity because they hate their own skin colour. As black people we need to free ourselves from this kind of iternalised oppression. We need to decolonise our minds.

Fixing internalised oppression is never easy but not impossible to accomplish. It takes time and effort from citizens to assimilate and change the way they think and act towards race. If writers, the media, and teachers continue to inform us about the effects of internalised oppression that we are confronting, then our society will be more educated about it, and they will know how to handle the situation better. It is in your hands to work with others as a community to eliminate internalised oppression so we can all be free to look, dress, act, and think in our own positive ways. All it takes is time to see a change in our community. But everything depends on you to take action and eliminate internalised oppression. I know it’s going to be tough, but I know that together we can make a change.

 
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Posted by on March 28, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Lobola 101: It’s A Family Thing

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Lobola is a traditional African custom that is practised in at least seven southern African countries and some parts of East Africa. Lobola is a dowry/ bride price that a groom pays to the bride’s family for the right or privilege to marry their daughter. The negotiation and payment of Lobola is an integral part of Shona culture and tradition. In Shona society, the payment of Lobola – the main part of which is called roora – is the basis of marriage and family obligations. There is general consensus on what Lobola entails in Zimbabwe and in other African countries.

The purpose of Lobola according to Shona culture is for ‘Kuwaka hukama” which loosely translates to ‘building relations’. Lobola is meant to facilitate the creation of a bond the two families – that of the bride and grooms. Before a price is set, family members from each side sit down to agree on a suitable price. A strong emphasis on the family unit is shown in the negotiation process, because it requires so many family members from both sides to sit in on the discussions. After several meetings the two sets of relatives leave with a sense of familiarity of the people they will soon call family.

Lobola is actually a process – not a one-off thing. Our elders used to say, mukuwasha muonde, hauperi kukohwewa, ‘the son in law is like a fig tree, you keep harvesting.’ Traditionally it was therefore considered a sign of disrespect for the groom to pay it all off at once. In fact he was never supposed to finish paying thus ensuring he always had cause to continue interacting with his new in laws. And that was our ancestors fail safe mechanism to ensure that a bond remained between the two families.

The payment of Lobola is also supposed to be a form of tribute paid to the parents of the girl for raising a bride for the groom as well as for the sons and daughters she will bear for him. In fact, a storyline is usually built into it to make it exciting. The story goes like this: “the man scouted and stole the girl from the unsuspecting parents. The parents have since found out and are fuming. They will let their daughter go, since she likes her captor, but the man has to pay, quite literally. The man obliges and pays for his sin. A big party is then thrown, and they all live happily ever after as one family.” It’s actually a beautiful thing.
In some interpretations of Lobola it is also used as a sort of litmus test by the bride’s family to ascertain the future husband’s ability to financially support his bride-to-be.

In pre colonial times, long before the white man came, Lobola, was paid by use of a hoe made from iron smelted in the Hwedza mountains by the Mbire people. That was long before Zimbabwe was colonised by the British. In those days, people from all over the country moved from one place to the other, trading in gold, copper, iron ore and other minerals. Smelted iron was used to make hoes, axes and spears. When a man failed to present a hoe, or badza, as lobola in marriage, he asked for kutema ugariri, meaning he would stay and work for his bride until the father-in-law was satisfied with his labour.

There is a school of thought that argues that Lobola became somewhat commercialised during the colonial era. That after colonialism the method of payment evolved into cattle which had already been a sign of wealth amongst many indigenous African communities. The same cattle would serve as Lobola when the bride’s brothers and cousins got married, following the system of chipanda. It was an exchange of cows in marriage from one family to the other, back and forth, depending on the number of daughters and sons. That way, wealth was nicely redistributed in the community.

Nowadays most Lobola payments are made in the form of cash, groceries and clothes for the bride’s family. Although in a throwback to the days when cattle were the preferred payment method some innovative techies in Zimbabwe have set up a Remote Livestock Marketing System (RLMS),a start-up that allows trade of livestock online. The website offers a platform for them to pay their Lobola cattle via RLMS. It offers a selection of cattle on display on the site, from which a prospective groom can choose. Also, If there is no space in the in-laws’ residence for the cattle, not to worry. Each animal you choose and buy can be ear tagged, branded, entered into a national database, kept at one of their partner farms, looked after. It’s a perfect union of the old and the new ways.

Unfortunately the concept of Lobola is often misconstrued by those alien to the cultural nuances as the process of ‘purchasing’ a wife. But even when Lobola has been negotiated and is paid for the bride’s family still have a say in how their daughter is treated by their in-law. They can in times of serious marital problems intervene and make decisions. So purchasing doesn’t really apply because the groom does not gain ownership of the bride as he is still accountable to his in laws.

In conclusion, there is nothing wrong with the concept of Lobola. It’s of the very few aspects our Shona culture that most of us still hold on to. It’s part of our identity as a people. The practice only becomes bad when it is abused for commercial purposes or when men treat women badly because Lobola was paid for them.

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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The Pretender

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Some time ago a child hood friend of mines wife asked me why I was single. My response was an instinctive “I get bored easily” and I quickly followed that up by laughing rather uncomfortably at my own response. Days later, sitting alone with my thoughts I found myself querying myself as to why I had given her that particular answer amongst all the many possible answers I could have offered up. Did I believe the answer that I gave her? That when it came to relationships perhaps I had some sort of ADD? Or was this just another lie I was telling myself. And maybe I was afraid to dig deeper and really look at myself and really analyse why my previous relationships have failed. Anyway I didn’t end up thinking about it for too long and carried on just doing me., Or maybe because I actually do have ADD.

More recently another friend I grew up with asked me to accompany him to go visit his soon to be new in laws. He wanted to initiate the process of negotiating Lobola. Lobola is a dowry/ bride price that a groom pays to the bride’s family when he marries their daughter. Traditionally this was in the form of cows, but nowadays it’s usually in the form of a cash amount that is set by the bride’s family. As such the concept of Lobola is often misconstrued by those alien to the cultural nuances as the process of purchasing a wife. It’s not. The purpose of Lobola according to Shona culture is for ‘Kuwaka hukama” which loosely translates to ‘building relations’. Lobola is meant to facilitate the creation of a bond the two families – that of the bride and grooms. When not abused it’s a great custom. Anyway on this occasion my friend asked me to accompany to go see the girl’s aunt. The Tete as the aunt is known in Shona who would act as the go between him and the bride’s family. She would also give us advice on what was expected of him when the Lobola discussions took place. All in all that visit gave me further insight into the whole process of Lobola, something I will discuss in more detail in a future post.

What I want to discuss today though is how that visit brought me back to that unresolved question on why I was single and even more so that despite all the relationships I have had I have never got to the stage where I even considered Lobola. As such I never made a conscious effort to understand it properly. I just knew of it. I think this is indicative of my lack of impetus when it comes to making long term commitments like getting married. But as more and more of friends are getting married and I find myself in the minority I have actively begun to inform myself so I can have a better understanding and ultimately forge my own path. Whatever that is. It is this that made go back to trying to understand for myself why I don’t seem to have the same urgency that my friends seem to have about settling down. Why made friends wife asked me why I was single.

I think there is some element of truth in my instinctive response that ‘I get bored easily’. I love the process of getting to know someone, revelling in the possibilities that lay ahead. But when it comes to actually going the distance I always seem to come up some way short. One of the reasons for this is that sometimes when I have found myself in the middle of that boundary defining ‘what are we’ conversation I haven’t always carried out my due diligence. It’s often been a case of not having strong enough reasons not to go into a relationship as opposed to having the right motivations to enter into one. Plus I don’t like sharing and monogamy settles that. Because I want that person to myself I sometimes end up in a relationship that I haven’t really thought through. In that way I have always sabotaged myself and it’s no surprise that I haven’t been able to go the distance.

The longest relationship I have ever had ended over four years ago. We dated for almost three years, although the last year we spent breaking up and making up more times than I care to remember. Compared to my other relationships this one I can confidently say I tried to make this one work. We both stuck around through the ups and downs. We tried to deal with our differences and disagreements maturely. It is probably the most grown up relationship I have ever had. A relationship in which I didn’t always feel like call it quits anytime there was trouble in paradise. But as meaningful and grown up as that relationship was I never completely opened up to her. I was committed but for some reason I kept my guard up, never fully letting her get to know all of me. In doing so I cheated both us from fully exploring the potential of that relationship. And even though I kept my guard up I left her to believe that I was an open book and she knew me completely.

So after two years of dating when she pressed me on what my long term plans were and whether I was part of them I buckled. Because I hadn’t fully opened up to her I was afraid she didn’t fully know me. Thinking she did know me (because that is what I left her to believe) she gave me ultimatum to give an outline of plans for our future within 6 months. And so began the slow and protracted end to our relationship. At one stage I tried to explain my hesitation to her. I remember that what she said hurt the most wasn’t that I didn’t completely share the core of who I was with her. It was that I sold her a dream. I left her to believe that she knew all of me. She rightly pointed out that it would have been better not to sell her the idea that I was an open book. “You made it your thing, that you were totally open” she said. She would have been perfectly Ok with me sharing whatever I struggled to share with her whenever I was ready if I hadn’t sold her onto the idea she already knew all of me. She said I was a pretender. Those words have haunted me ever since.

In the aftermath of that relationship I never really took the time to get to the bottom of why I couldn’t be open with her. I just knew that going forward I didn’t want to be called a pretender ever again. The question of why I couldn’t be open with her is one I am not sure I have a conclusive answer for even after all these years. I am tempted to say that maybe part of me knew that we had no long term future no matter how hard I tried to convince myself otherwise. And why that rather meek explanation?

Just based on all the relationships I have had I have noticed a trend with the breakdown of all my relationships. Issues that have remained unresolved going back to the first major fight have always turned to be deciding factors in all those break ups. So using that logic I probably knew from our first fight that we didn’t have a long term future and maybe that is why I never fully opened up to her. In my misguided efforts to make it work I inadvertently made sure that it would never work.

 
 

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Where I Wanna Be

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As I sit at my desk writing this Donell Jones intones in my ears “ But when you love someone you just don’t treat them bad/Oh, how I feel so sad/Now that I wanna leave/She’s crying her heart to me/How could you let this be?/I just need time to see where I wanna be…”

This is not just my iTunes randomly accessing my memory bank; rather it’s a deliberate effort on my part to get into the headspace I need to be to write this post. You see, there is a story behind this song. It’s a story that goes back almost a decade ago now, when I was 21. Back when I was in university and dating my first serious girlfriend as a twenty something. We both loved the music of Donell Jones. So much so that he provided the soundtrack to some of our most intimate moments. Little did we both know that he would also inadvertently gift me with the soundtrack to our break up. Donell sang my stupid young self into a sticky situation.

“Never did I imagine/That you would play a major part in a decision that’s so hard/Do I leave, do I stay, do I go?/ I think about my life and what matters to me the most/Girl, the love that we share is real but in time your heart will heal/I’m not saying I’m gone but I have to find what life is like without you…”- Donell Jones(Where I Wanna Be)

Truth is we shouldn’t have even been dating in the first place. In the beginning we were amazing friends and with the benefit of hindsight I realise that we should have probably stayed just that. But what did I know? She was a vibrant, witty, smart, vivacious and focused woman. And I was just horny little boy, still several more mistakes away from becoming a man. We shared most of the same lectures and were part of just a handful of African students on campus so naturally we gravitated towards each other until one day I found myself in the middle of that boundary setting “What are we ?… where is thing going?” conversation. Thinking only of quenching my lust and without giving it much further thought we agreed to date. It was the only way I figured I would get the booty.

Despite the idealistic view of myself at the time as a romantic, there was nothing romantic about that union on my part at least. I was probably more enthralled by the idea of such a vivacious and vibrant woman giving me the booty. And she had quite the booty too so I am not even mad at my younger self for that. However I am disappointed in my younger self betraying my own views on what I thought romance was and going even further to try and convince myself that that was what we had. It wasn’t. It is probably the first time I can recall that I allowed my ego to make a call that my heart should have been making. It wasn’t going to be the last either.

This was a relationship that was convenient for me at the time more than anything else. At the time I was also working part time to support myself. So come time for lectures I often tired and struggled to always pay attention. But luckily for me I now had a girlfriend I shared most of my classes so I was covered. I could always count on her to catch me up on anything I had missed and often relied heavily on her own personal notes. For most of my second year of university exams I also relied heavily on the cheats sheets she would prepare. And that is how I made it through that year.

Despite all this I still felt I could do better than her. Why? Simple. Ego. Not to mention that I obviously wasn’t in love with her. Also as is usually the case when you are in a relationship you start frequently getting attention from other girls that you weren’t getting when you were single ( I’ve never understood that). And for me this attention was coming from all the different kind of girls of different races and nationalities and it got to my head. I thought was the man and even though our relationship was seemingly fine I wanted out. So what did I do? Well, I basically plagiarised the lyrics to Donell Jones’ “Where I Wanna Be” in my break up speech to her.

“I said I left my baby girl a message sayin’ I won’t be coming home/ I’d rather be alone/She doesn’t fully understand me/That I’d rather leave than to cheat/If she gives me some time I can be the man she needs/But there’s a lot of lust inside of me/And we’ve been together since our teenage years/I really don’t mean to hurt her, but I need some time to be alone …” – Donell Jones(Where I Wanna Be)

I went even further and gave her some spill that went something like “Even Michael Jordan quit the game when he was on top.” The logic I was trying to sell to her was that it was best we go our separate ways whilst we still had fond memories of each other. My naivety and douchebagery is not lost on me.

She begrudgingly obliged me. I didn’t really give her much of a choice. And as karma would have it our relative fortunes would go on comically. I quickly learned that the grass isn’t always greener and that attention I had been getting fizzled out eventually. And she went to date someone else some time after we broke up.
Nothing could have prepared me for what would follow. For the lows and embarrassment I would put myself through all because my ego was shattered that she had actually moved on. There is one incident in particular that’s comes flooding back as I write this.

So there we were out one night post break up and I am acting the fool with my boys. That was until I until I spotted in corner of my eye grinding up on new dude. I still don’t know why but I flipping lost it. I won’t lie, I surprised even myself. But I didn’t make a scene; I just glared menacingly in their general direction whilst trying to comprehend why it bothered me so much. I was the one who ended it. The one who thought I could do better. So why was I was I upset? By now my boys had picked up on the source of my agitation. I remember one of them drunkenly offered to ‘take care’ of new dude if that would make me feel better. I was tempted for a second, but I just as quickly declined and made a bee line for the mens room. My ego was now in cruise control. There was no way it would let her think I was bothered.

My brilliant plan was to pull myself together in the mens room. Now in mens room my ego proceeded to give the man in the mirror an impromptu pep talk. One moment I was holding a glass of scotch in my hand, talking to myself and in the next I was hurling it at the mirror and shouting in frustration at myself “This is what you wanted … what the hell is wrong with you?” As the mirror came shattering to the floor new dude simultaneously walked in. wanted to crawl into the toilet bowl. That’s how embarrassed I was. So much for her not finding out that I was upset that she had moved on.

When a much older and wiser self looks back on this episode all I see is my allowing my ego to call the shots. From entering the relationship to not wanting her to move on, it was my ego that got me in those situations. That is not love, or even being in love with someone. It was selfish, self centred and petulant. But hey I was 21. Surely as I grew older and matured over the years I would learn how to starve my ego and feed my soul instead. Or would I?

 
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Posted by on March 25, 2014 in Writing My Wrongs

 

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I Have Never Been IN Love

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I have never been in love with anyone other than myself.

I have loved some people I have had relationships with, tolerated others, and some, well let’s just say it was just convenient. But when I really look back and think about it, and I am entirely honest with myself I realise that I was never really in love with any of them. At the time though I definitely believed I was in love. I desperately wanted to believe that I was in love. I guess it was easier than admitting to myself that I was a pragmatist who dated people he just got along with. People who massaged my fragile and over sized ego and made me feel loved. That I was probably in love with the idea of being loved and to show my appreciation I loved them back? This however didn’t fit in with the carefully crafted narrative I had written for myself. One in which I was a romantic, a lover. So I convinced myself I was in love. I might have even tried to convince myself that they were the one. What is probably more closer to the truth is that it was most likely just an infatuation with her booty.

Another factor to consider is that my younger self was so irrationally preoccupied with avoiding that mythical black hole that is the friend zone, so much so that I jeorpadised many a friendship that would have surely enriched my life. Where I could have been amazing friends with some of the people I dated I opted to date, again all because of that narrative I was trying to write. That I was lover, and a romantic. Oh how misguided I was. in my current incarnation I am not sure I have met “the one” yet or that there even is one specific person out there we are pre destined to be with. If it’s a case of soul mates I believe we can actually have more than one soul mate and we might actually never get to spend forever with any of them but that’s a story for another day.

I know how cynical and jaded I probably sound writing all but if you will please indulge me I will try and explain myself. At the end of Lauryn Hill’s song Doo Woop (That Thing) on her The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill album a young girl offers up her musings on what she thinks the difference between being in love and loving someone. This largely informs my own understanding of what that difference is.

There is a difference between loving someone and being in love with someone. You can love anybody. But when you are in love with somebody, you looking at it like this: you taking that person for what he or she is no matter what he or she look like or no matter what he or she do. You might stop being in love with them but you are not going to stop loving that person.- musings of a young girl on Lauryn Hills Doo Woop (That Thing)

My understanding and interpretation of that is that being in love is typically based on dependability, respect, compromise and compassion. Loving someone on the other hand is particularly different. You basically want the best for them and you encourage them in what they but you might not necessarily compromise for them or be dependable. It’s a very thin and blurry line between the two.

The biggest lies we tell are the ones we tell ourselves. In fact for us to lie to others in most instances we lie to ourselves first. We tell ourselves that we are protecting them or don’t want to hurt them and we use that as justification. We are lying to ourselves. When I look at most of the relationships I have been a part of throughout my twenties a pattern slows starts to emerge. There are a few recurring themes that characterise all those relationships. Whilst the people I have dated are all unique and different there is one common denominator in all those relationships – yours truly. Whilst the relationships have ended for a myriad of reasons it has been the same qualities and characteristics of my person that have always had the deciding vote in the end. Whether it was a breakdown in trust, a lack of communication, divergent views, values or goals it was how mostly my ego dealt with those challenges. And so it has been that my ego cast the decisive vote on my part.

For me the deciding vote on whether to stay, fight for it or walk away has always been predominantly cast by me ego. I am in no way saying this is the right or mature way to have handled things but that it is what is. I can’t rewrite history; I can only hope to write my wrongs and maybe someone else might learn from my flaws and mistakes. Whenever my relationship became untenable, it was usually because my ego was no longer being massaged. And that was all the incentive I needed to move on. In some situations I have pushed be trusted or loved and vice versa. In the few instances where I was on the receiving end, and my trust was broken as long as my ego was soothed somehow in the aftermath I would stay, because that’s all that really counted, my ego. Not being in love or loving someone. Maybe I have never even been in love with myself and Instead I have been in love with my ego.

Over the course of this I will use this blog as a vehicle for me to start writing my wrongs by discussing and analysing some of the defining relationships I have had in my life and trying to get a better understanding and further insight into my own actions. Hopefully In the process I will begin to find the answers as to why I made the choices I made, why I have never been in love. I will be writing in search of my truth. It will be the start of a journey I am embarking on to starve my ego and feed my soul. And maybe in the process I will not learn from my mistakes but also grown within the margins of the blank page.

 
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Posted by on March 24, 2014 in Writing My Wrongs

 

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Love In The Future

Love is a hell of a muse. It’s definitely doing wonders for John Legend’s music. Granted he has always been a soulful dude but his latest offering “Love In The Future” has to arguably be his best work to date. It’s not just his voice, or even his musicality that brings it home for me. It’s how effortlessly he sets about sharing the core of who he is. For me this has always been the essence of all the great art that has managed to leave an indelible mark on my soul. It is something that as a writer I try to emulate in my own writing, albeit with varying degrees of success. On this album John Legend is encouragingly vulnerable and he displays an emotional intelligence that makes this album special, even more so when set against the backdrop of most popular R&B/soul music today. It embodies all the characteristics of grown and sexy music. It’s a breath of fresh air.

The album’s title gives a pretty accurate indicator of the album’s direction. As the album starts he sings on the title track “It’s a new year for love in the future, not the love I lost …no” On a personal level this is probably the most important message on the whole album. When I first listened to the album it made me sit up and pay attention. It sets the tone perfectly for the rest of the album. John Legend had this to say about it “The title kind of embraces where I’m heading in life, It’s the beginning of something new. It’s also the end.”

In the past I have always taken issue with most R&B/soul by male artists. This is because the majority of the time the songs are bout pining for lost love, asking for forgiveness or instead they offer a play by play account of how they intend to sex some women silly. This grates me not because I can’t relate, I can, but I always felt it was too dominant a narrative in soul music. And that is why I love “Love In The Future”. It’s a celebration of love infused with an anticipation and optimism of how that love is going to grow. It promotes stability and maturity in love and relationships.

Essentially the album plays out as a sort of love letter presumably to his then fiancé (and now wife) Chrissy Teigen. It unfolds like a concept album, speaking to the love they will grow into in the future. Each song either extols the graces of a woman or endorses the endurance of relationships. The album as a whole is sure to soften even the most cynical and jaded of hearts. It’s not cheesy in the way most pop and R&B albums tend to be. There is an authenticity and vulnerability that’s relatable and real. And the standout track for me is the piano heavy ballad ‘All Of Me’.

‘All Of Me’ is such a beautifully written and mature love song. It is without a shadow of doubt the most thoughtful, introspective, sensual, vulnerable and honest song I have listened to all year. Lyrically it bears all the hallmarks of all the songs that stay with me long after it will has been exhausted by radio. The music I return to whenever I retreat to nostalgia. The music that inspires me to moonwalk with my muse.It is a timeless. In recent memory with exception of Frank Ocean’s last offering ‘Channel Orange’ the music that has resonated with me that way has been mostly the rap music of the likes of Kendrick Lamar and J.Cole . So even though I caught on to the album later than most people, I still appreciate it just as much and I am grateful to John Legend for bringing back the soul into my playlist.

 
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Posted by on March 21, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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